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How to Cope with New Stress and Sleep Issue while Tapering


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Dear Buddies,


Now I am on 1.4mg Valium at bedtime only. Slow tapering took almost a year. But with the recent stress on moving this month, my anxiety and fatigue leveled up. Sleep comes shorter with the thought of many things to do, and chest discomfort is new symptom. When I wake up in the midnight, sometimes soaked in a little sweat.


The unclear brain and fatigue hinders doing many things. I am now mostly bedridden, distracting with laptop, only doing some necessary things.


Two days ago, I took extra Etizolam 0.25mg when I wake up in the midnight, reluctant but I did, and yesterday I hesitated but took Zolpidem 0.25mg 3 o’clock, not much helpful.


I know well its not good for the tapering. How do you cope with this situation? How to cope with the stress?


Don't you have any fear in the midnight? or when wake up 2-3 o'clock, how do you cope with the darkness and endure insufficient sleep. I have read here the benzo heroes go through many sleepless nights and weeks. How can you do that? I have in mind that at least 5 hour sleep is necessary for life and doing ordinary stuffs. Is this too much expectation?


Insomnia with anxiety is hard to cope with, and perhaps the biggest challenge to benzo free.


1) I need a kind of CBT especially for the new stress and anxiety.

2) In any case, the extra benzo and sleep pills is avoided, right? and then how to cope with the insufficient sleeping nights?


Would you give some advice and share the wise skills?



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Dear Naru,


I'm sorry you're going through such a hard time.  It makes sense that your anxiety and fatigue have ratcheted up due to the stress of your recent move.  Moving is a major stressor under even the best of circumstances so it's bound to challenge your over sensitized CNS. 


Being awake in the quiet wee hours can be a very lonely, vulnerable time for those of us coping with benzo withdrawal - our defenses are down and we can't lose ourselves in the distractions we have during the day- this makes us more susceptible to the supercharged anxiety our brains produce during withdrawal.


It's understandable that you took a couple of rescue doses.  Of course it's not ideal and doesn't help you with your taper in the long run.  Hopefully leave that behind  you and will move forward with the resolve and belief that you can handle the taper.


One of the challenges of tapering and withdrawal is that we need to develop new ways of coping with anxiety and insomnia among other symptoms.  CBT techniques are among many tools you can develop for your toolbox.  Other tools are listening to soothing music or white noise, drinking a two-bag cup of chamomile tea before bed, taking a warm Epsom salts bath and soaking for 20 minutes before bed, accepting broken sleep and having a good book to read, etc.


You'll find a lot of ideas for coping with insomnia here: Insomnia   

and for coping with anxiety, here: Anxiety


I hope you're feeling better soon. 

Take care,


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I didn’t touch any rescue drug yesterday. Awake in the dark, chest pain came. As I tagged it wih the name of w/d instead of anxiety, miraculously the stress was melting down. I could lay relaxed and perhaps slept a bit more.


As you suggested I had camomile tea, and I am trying to accept the broken sleep as new normal. Can I do something, read or write in the midnight instead of waiting more sleep in the bed?


In the morning some anxiety bothers my legs uncomfortable, but after noon I felt the fatigue much less. I recorded it in my mind as a sign of recovery.


I appreciate your empathy and kind advice, wish you enjoy Brighter Day.




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I'm In the same boat..Broken sleep, morning sickness..My Anxiety Is the worst at night..you don't want too be around me at bedtime. Night Anxiety..will I sleep?  I'll be a mess tomorrow thoughts take over..
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Hi NaRu


Your struggle is tedious and I know you wish for rest.  You’ll get there!  Healing happens.  All of these feelings are withdrawal.  It means your brain is working hard to heal.  I like that you reframed your thoughts in this way!  How we think about our experience and acceptance are huge in the healing.  And yes, you can definitely read a book in the middle of the night.  Do anything soothing.  Laying still and waiting is probably the hardest thing.  Just don’t watch stressful tv or budget your money.  Keep the lights dim.  I sometimes move to the couch and get comfortable.  Also, I use white noise (or spa music), eye mask, breathing to activate my under active vagus nerve.  It’s the part of the nervous system that benzos puts to sleep.  It’s meant to settle the fight flight response, but it’s not working due to benzos.  The vagus nerve is like the brake pedal in a fast moving train.  You can breathe like this: breathe in to count of 4 through nose slowly, hold breath count 7,  breathe out to count of 8.  Blow out like birthday candles through mouth.  Repeat until calmer.  Also, laying on the floor with feet elevated helps.  Up on wall or couch.  Do both.  Breathe with your feet up.  Why not?  If you’re awake anyway, it gives you a positive focus.  The vagus nerve has sensory and motor functions.  So sensations on skin and muscles, and lowers heart rate and eases digestion.  It returns the body to homeostasis, calm and level.  I wish you peaceful nights.

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Yes Lonelysoul, I know well the hard time in the dark. You call it Night Anxiety. Awake in the midnight, not going back to sleep, just sitting on the bed and laying down again with chest discomfort, wondering when will this agony end and get normal sleep back?


But I try not to think it another mess, but to accept it as it is, though not easy. One day, do I even cherish gratitude in my heart for the granted sleep?


Healing64's word is the key of all the wisdom. “How we think about our experience and acceptance are huge in the healing.”


I didn’t fight with the sleep yesterday. As he/she advised, I breathe calmly with a book on my belly, and laying my feet on the wall when awake in the dark. and it helped to soothe the uncomfortable chest pain. The relax made me forget the time and new day came. It felt much faster than yesterday. I thought today will be better off than yesterday. It was true. Less fatigue, more activity outside. I need to watch my anxious thought not to distort what really happens.


“To read a book in the middle of the night” is a tough challenge. I will note it in my mind.


I appreciate you bbuddies’ warm comments and practical skills.

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Today, I dropped by the doctor to get new Valium, and consulted my sleep issue. She  chewed her first idea of crossing Benzo to antidepressant, Lexapro. I had declined it because of its side effect. I asked, if there is, some supplement med to soothe the sleep which is non-addictive. She prescribed Quetapine(Seroquel) 12.5 to 25mg. I searched this med on BB. Opinion varies on its effect and tolerance, especially difficulty to get off later. What do you think about this?     


I have read on the BB below:


“The seroquel really does help me sleep and also reduces the racing thoughts from coming down off of the Valium.The idea is to get me off the Valium relatively quickly.  We were down to 1 mg per day when the problems hit, so we went back up to stabilize.  I think the idea is to use the liquid and get me off the stuff over a period of a few weeks.  I think the docs think that when I got to 1.5 mg that we moved from 1.5 to 1.0 too quickly and it was just too much of a shock to the system. I know that Ashton says that once one gets to about 1.0 that the drug is probably having very little effect and that there is no need to prolong, but I have read about people who have had their biggest problems once they get down to that very low dose.”

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I have an app on my phone called Breethe. It’s mindfulness guided meditation app and they have a bunch of in the sleep section. I found one in particular very helpful. When I wake up in the middle of the night, I put in my headphones, turn on that app and surprisingly fall back asleep. That’s another tool in your arsenal :).
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I am here to comment on the comment about many sleepless nights as i have done it twice and am going through it a 3rd time right now. Before we dive in though, the point of my story is DONT be scared.


For context:


First time, i was on vacation an partied hard, took a month's worth of benzos in a week and came back cold turkey because i was out. It was brutal. I was up for 5 days straight. I was exhausted, and wanted to sleep, but my body just couldnt. I ironically though, my anxiety wasnt high, i was so out of it that i was just numb. Yes i went to work every day that week and it was torturous because each day it got harder to participate and be useful. Eventually i got a refill and was able to taper more appropriately.


Second time i cant fully remember why it happened, but i had another binge moment but not nearly on the same level. I think i maybe took 14 days worth in 4 days? This time i was up for about 4 days and then bam! finally my brain said "ok, i will let you rest now" and i got a few hours of sleep. Each day thereafter i was able to get SOME sleep.


Currently i am going through a wicked withdrawal because i slipped up and binged again. Currently i have only slept 6 hours since Wednesday night and that was because i knew i was about to head into night number 3 and i took 0.25 of ATIVAN. (i think people call that a rescue dose)


But!!!! before i binged this last time, i got down to only 10MG of Ativan a month, down from my old monthly dose of 60MG. i was actually sleeping quite well to be honest and would really only take 1MG of ATIVAN on some restless nights because again, i tapered more efficiently.


Synopsis: The swing in my taper was WAY too wide which is why i experienced the crazy lack of sleep. The more appropriate your taper is for YOU, the less likely you will experience this. DONT be scared.


How did/do i get through the sleepless nights? Knowing that it was temporary and knowing the cause helped immensely. Cognitively how did i get through it and operate? Caffeine and the grace of god. (Not suggesting caffeine but just being honest about what i did) It was brutal and all i could think about was what do i say when someone asks, "what is wrong with you?"


Best advice i can give here is make sure you are not malnourished and be patient with your taper. When awake during your "normal hours" eat BALANCED meals. Dont eat junk. Maybe consume an additional 500-1000 calories to help your body store energy for consumption. <-- i learned that when i used to purposely pull all nighters for work. A balanced diet is essential especially if you are up for extended hours at a time


Sorry for the long winded answer but i dont want people to read my experience an think "OMG! i have slow tapered and am terrified i will be up for 5 days like this guy" That is NOT the case. Do NOT be afraid. The more appropriate your taper is for you, the less likely you will experience this.


Hang in there and keep coming back for support!

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Hi everybody, hi healing64. I see you had experienced panic attacks in the nearpast. How did you cope with that? If panic term is limited for one day, then some day after another, it would be easy to handle that. But, i am experiencing it days in a row and it is hard to cope with that. I dont want to be put medicated with other, because i also taper rem. I am using calm apps and MBSR, they at least prevent crisis type attacks, but one or two hour later, it is up there again. Thank you for reply...
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